Little work left for the teacher

img_20181128_122621I still haven’t found out whether grammar is the backbone of language learning or if it is overrated. One way or the other, in my teaching context, I need to teach grammar whether I like it or not. Over the years, I have presented the same grammar rules a hundred times. So if you wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me to speak about question tags, I will do so without batting an eye and then I’ll peacefully go back to sleep.

Having said that, finding new ways of presenting and practising grammar is becoming more and more difficult for me. Gap-fills, drills, multiple-choice quizzes, translation, and games seem all a bit boring after so many years of my teaching experience. So from time to time, I love to try out a new technique. Here’s an activity I did with my students the other day. I found simple and useful.

The present perfect is something Czech learners often struggle with so a bit of extra grammar practice is always to the good, especially before a unit test.


On YouTube, I found this 6-minute video tutorial on how to use the present perfect. The commentary and explanations are in Czech, but there are lots of examples in English. Their L1 equivalents are provided too. Before the lesson, I took all the Czech translations of the example sentences from the tutorial and wrote them down (see below).

I gave each student a handout with the 17 Czech sentences and asked them to translate them into English. When they finished, I simply played the video and encouraged them to make any adjustments to their original translations.

The whole activity took about 20 minutes. The students were active all the time, while me, the teacher, had an opportunity to observe how the students were doing. All the explanations in the tutorial are very clear, so in the end, there was no work left for me. I only answered some additional questions afterwards. In other words, the revision was done efficiently without me having to interrupt whatsoever. The best thing was that the students got immediate feedback. What’s more, my students left the classroom with an extra piece of material to study from for their test.

If you teach a monolingual class like me and come across a suitable grammar tutorial, why not use it this way. It’s a nice tweak to your class routine and with a little bit of preparation, you won’t need to do a lot. 😉

  1. Podívej, koupil jsem si nové auto.
  2. Já jsem svoje auto koupil v roce 2010.
  3. Už jsem s ním mluvil.
  4. Mluvil jsem s ním před 5 minutami.
  5. Letos napsal mnoho článků.
  6. Loni napsal mnoho článků.
  7. Vynalezl jsem něco zajímavého.
  8. Einstein přišel s teorií relativity. (introduce)
  9. V kolik hodin jsi ji vyzvedl?
  10. Dal jsem gól. (score)
  11. Viděl jsi včera ten sci-fi film?
  12. Ne včera ne, ale už jsem ho viděl dřív.
  13. Už jsi obědvala?
  14. Ne, neobědvala.
  15. Zatím to pro mě není moc dobrý den.
  16. V Londýně jsem byl třikrát.
  17. Do Londýna jsem jel v roce 2010.

About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for almost 25 years and I still love my job. You can find out more about my passion here on my blog.
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1 Response to Little work left for the teacher

  1. I watched a few of those videos on Youtube and liked them – clear, to the point, and brief (I’ve seen research that suggests that 5 – 7 minutes is an ideal length for an educational video). This is a nice example of how a traditional topic can be handled in a new way… and how an effective lesson doesn’t have to require a lot of extra work for the teacher. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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